Dani and Nelson walk out of the supermarket in Te Anau. Dani turns left. Nelson says, "Where are you going? We need to go this way." They look up above where Dani is standing and see this street sign.They laugh way too hard. Nelson says "If your family was here this would be one of those jokes you guys say over and over again for years". Dani responds, "HELLOOOO, my freezers open". She is laughing so hard she almost pees her pants.
It's Thanksgiving. No turkey. No cranberry sauce. No mashed potatos. No pumpin pie. No Ohio cousins. No touch football. No heated games of charades or pong. I think Thanksgiving is my most homesick day.
But I'm done pouting. I am thankful...
that we have a place in NZ that we call home and that we were welcomed back to it yesterday with hugs and kisses... that we are healthy and strong... that we can grow and eat good food... that we are loved...
I miss you all terribly and hope that your Thanksgiving is joyous, whether you are eating tapas, turkey, or vegemite.
Off the southern coast of New Zealand is a small island called Stewart Island. The only place in the world closer to Antartica than this is Tierra del Fuego. This fact, mixed with weather reports of rain (and possible snow) showers, did not leave us with high hopes for our time there. But, like the rest of our trip so far, we had amazing weather. It only rained one day.
We took the ferry over to Stewart Island and even though it was supposedly the calmest day in weeks, I had to work hard to fend off a reappearance of my breakfast. We then took off with ambitions of getting as far into the backcountry as we could in four days. Our ambitious first day, through bogs of mud left us fellin old and exhausted, so we shifted routes for an easier way back. Even so, my left knee is suffering from a bit of bursitis (ironically known as "house-maid's knee").
The ferry ride back was a bit rougher and two days later I am still feeling nauseous. Luckily we have a bit of down time in the cute little town of Riverton where Nelson will be presenting three workshops at the Southland Environment Center.
We're not sure where we will head from there since we got an email saying that the next track we had reservations to hike, the Kepler Track, is closed due to avalanches. Maybe out to Doubtful Sound, or the Hump Ridge Track, or as far on the Kepler as we can get. So many possibilities!
The problem with buses is that they only go where all the people go. So, if you're looking to say travel along the Southern Scenic route of New Zealand... total population circa 1,000. You're out of luck.
I don't fully endorse hitch-hiking, but as an environmentally friendly way to travel places that don't have public bus service, it has its perks (If you're with a strong man who will protect you from getting kidnapped and murdered of course... or if you can just run faster than whoever you're travelling with).
So thumbs it was. We stuck ours out on the outskirts of Balclutha and got a ride within 15 minutes to Surat Bay, where we camped overnight at this awesome little campground. I was admiring some fine-looking home-made veggie burgers being cooked by a nice Irish lass and we got to talking. Turns out her and her fiance had a campervan and were travelling along the Southern Scenic route as well. They had some spare seats. We had some spare wine. It all worked out.
Travelling with them was like being in a coach bus that stopped at all of the sites we wanted to see anyway. Those stops mostly included beautiful sea-side vistas and short hikes to waterfalls. (Pictures to follow at some point). We all decided to camp at Curio Bay, another gorgeous sea-side campground that we shared with a few aggressive sea lions. So agressive that after dinner we were all trapped in the campervan. (Video to follow). Then this morning they drove us to Invercargill where we are treating ourselves with a night in a hostel. Woo hoo!
Best part is that we convinced them to go down to Stewart Island, so they'll be dropping us off at the ferry tomorrow morning. Sweet. Can you call it hitch-hiking when you end up getting door to door service to all of the best sights along your route?
So, tomorrow us and the irishmen will take a ferry ride across the tumultuos sound to Halfmoon Bay where we will spend three days tramping through native bush and searching for kiwi birds. So far South Island = Fabulous.
Two days into our south island holiday and things are going grandly. Yesterday we went on a wildlife tour and got up close and personal with fur seals, sea lions, albatrosses, and penguins. Penguins were not afraid of us at all. I can now assert that it may in fact be plausible to pick on of the cute little guys up, but they are bigger than you think. And way noisier.
Pictures once we get on a computer that doesn't cost us $2/ 15 min.